Tagify Plans to Mature Before Seeking Investors After Win at Startup Weekend NYC

6/23/11Follow @jpruth

Amid the ideas brewed in the carnival atmosphere at Startup Weekend New York City earlier this month was another attempt at tackling the rapidly growing issue of contact management.

The team that created Tagify.us, an app that crowdsources information about users’ personal contacts, won first place at the end of the 54-hour event (June 10-12). Startup Weekend, hosted in more than a dozen cities around the world, brings together technology professionals and business people to create new startups over the course of one weekend. Tagify’s creators must now cultivate their idea to land on the radar of potential investors.

Tagify is a Web-based and—in the future—mobile contact management tool that enhances knowledge about individuals, such as any professional expertise they possess, within the user’s personal network, said Kelsey Falter, head of creative design for the team. “You may not know something about an individual, however through the crowdsourced tag cloud you can see how others have tagged them,” she said.

Niko Pipaloff, the business leader for Tagify, said the team considered several ideas before taking a cue from his challenges in sorting contacts by their professional skills. Pipaloff was born in Bulgaria, raised in Orange County, California, and most recently worked in management consulting in New York City.

Tagify faces some challenges in its market. Existing apps such as Hashable and Addieu already provide their users with ways to add information and context to the names among their contacts. “This is a growing space,” Pipaloff said. “We plan to differentiate ourselves through being able to leverage the information for a single person from everyone that knows that person.”

Tagify team members Patrick Conroy, Corbin Fields, Niko Pipaloff, Justas Janauskas, Steve Liu, Kelsey Falter, and Cavaughn Noel. (photo by Jamaal Montasser)

Alex Mashinsky, managing partner of New York venture firm Governing Dynamics, served as one of the judges at Startup Weekend New York City. He said while some of the teams impressed him with their efforts over such a short timeframe, he did not expect game-changing ideas to emerge. “I’m not sure the program’s intent is to make the next Google,” he said.

The first place winner of Startup Weekend New York City receives $2,000 worth of services from New York City law firm Buhler Duggal & Henry to incorporate the startup.

Mashinsky said Tagify did its homework on the market, but the team, like any new venture, needs to spend more time working together to mature their idea. “Most startups don’t survive past their next week,” he said.

While the software was initially developed as a plug-in for Facebook, Falter said, the goal is to create standalone Web and mobile Tagify apps that also integrate with LinkedIn and Twitter. The tags, she said, can include the contact’s areas of expertise that the user may not be aware of. “You can benefit from other people’s personal knowledge of your contacts,” she said.

Falter said Tagify lets users create anonymous public and private tags for each contact. Public tags must be approved by the contact and are visible to other users. Private tags are tidbits about the contact for personal reference, such as whether to follow up or avoid doing business with them. Falter said future plans include a search function to help users skim through the tags for specific types of contacts.

Pipaloff said some of the original Tagify team members will not remain onboard because of prior commitments. “The focus is on filling those gaps,” he said. Justas Janauskas, a developer from Lithuania, cannot continue full-time because of his duties as CEO of the MIJU Projects, a peer-to-peer social trading platform dedicated to women. Still, Pipaloff and Falter said they are discussing ways Janauskas can contribute to Tagify going forward.

As Startup Weekend first place winners, the Tagify team will present its idea on July 18, at Stevens Institute of Technology, to the Hoboken Technology Meetup group.

Tagify will remain in New York City, Pipaloff said. He quit his management consulting job this month and will devote himself full-time to the startup. Meanwhile, Falter, a 21-year-old Miami native pursuing her bachelor’s degree in graphic and industrial design at the University of Notre Dame, said she is night-owling for Tagify. She is living in Brooklyn for the summer. Falter said Startup Weekend New York City offered her the chance to explore some career options prior to graduation.

“I don’t see myself going into the nine-to-five workforce,” she said.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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